Particularly concerning: the insurance company had initially suggested that they would cover the chemotherapy drugs. It was one week after assisted suicide was legalized that they sent Packer a letter saying they were denying coverage. Despite multiple appeals, they continued to refuse.
“As soon as this law was passed, patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this will always be the cheapest option… it’s hard to financially fight,” Packer said in the documentary.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in a handful of states, gaining momentum ever since the high profile suicide of cancer patient Brittany Maynard in 2014.
Many prominent Catholic leaders, such as Pope Francis, have spoken out against assisted suicide, calling it “false compassion.” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez has said that assisted suicide “represents a failure of solidarity” and abandons the most vulnerable in society.
“We are called as people to support each other, to hold each other’s hand and walk through this journey,” Packer said, adding, “I want my kids to see that dying is a part of life, and the end of your life can be an opportunity to appreciate the things you didn’t appreciate before.”
Packer leads support groups for individuals with terminal and chronic illnesses. She said there was a clear morale change in many of the group members when physician-assisted suicide became legalized in her state.
“Normally, we would talk about support and love, and we would be there for each other, and just encourage them that, you know, today is a bad day, tomorrow doesn’t have to be,” she said.
But when assisted suicide was legalized, individuals became more depressed, with some saying that they wanted to end their lives.
“Patients are going to die because of this,” Packer said. “Patients need to know what this means, and the public needs to know that it’s going to kill these patients because they aren’t going to get the treatment they need to extend their life.”
She also said that assisted suicide proponents have twisted the meaning of suicide to make it sound “sweet and pretty,” and have also redefined what it means to live with a terminal illness.
“It makes terminally ill patients feel ‘less than,’ that they are not worthy of that fight, that they're not worth it,” she said.
Packer believes that end-of-life drugs should never “be supported by physicians or run by the government. That’s not okay... because it affects me negatively and affects my fight and my ability to stay here longer with my children.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Packer pointed to other resources, saying that there is a whole treasury of support for terminal patients – financially, psychologically, physically, and even if patients just need someone to talk to.
While life-affirming palliative care remains an expensive medical cost, Packer recommended that more energy and resources fund hospice care, instead of making death the cheaper option.
“We can start to fix our broken health care system, and people will start to live instead of feeling like they have to choose to die.”
This article was originally published on CNA Oct. 19, 2016.